Listen as Ron shares about Moshe Dayan, the iconic eye-patch wearing soldier. He is considered by many to be one of Israel’s greatest generals. But his life was not free from controversy.
He was the second child born on the very first Kibbutz, or collective farm—in Israel, situated below the Sea of Galilee, right next to Yardenit on the Jordan, where millions of pilgrims come to be immersed in water. He was named Moshe after the first member of the Kibbutz that was killed by Arabs, as he was seeking medication for Moshe’s father.
At the time, Degania was part of the Ottoman Empire. This was before the first world war, after which Great Britain would take control of what would become Israel, a few decades later.
At the young age of 14 he joined the Haganah, the main forerunner to the Israeli Defense Forces, along with a few other militias. He later was accepted into an elite force led and trained under famed British Commander Orde Wingate. There Dayan would learn guerilla warfare—the only way for the outnumbered Israelis to survive. Wingate was known for his unconventional fighting tactics. He was Christian and a devout Zionist. He felt it his Biblical duty to serve the Jewish people in establishing their own state.
Wingate, who personally selected Dayan, organized the Special Night Squads or the SNS. The SNS, amongst, other responsibilities, would stealthily attack known Arab terrorists with small, but well-trained, squads in the middle of the night. They were highly successful and today, one of our nations universities bears his name—my wife Elana studied there.
Dayan continued to serve with the British and is most famous for the eyepatch that covered his left eye. On June 7th, 1941, in the midst of a firefight with the Syrians, he was looking through the scope of his rifle, when he was shot in the eye. In most cases such a wound be fatal. But Dayan recovered and his eye patch became legendary.
In 1967, he was appointed defense minister, and oversaw the miraculous victory of the Six-Day-War. Dayan was the one who boldly decided to confront the belligerent Syrians who were bombing Israeli villages from the Golan Heights. Furthermore, it was Dayan who imposed a news blackout for the first day of the war.
The effect of this blackout was remarkable. On the one hand, Israelis and Jews all over the world, were left to believe the false reports coming out of Egypt of an Arab stampede. On the other hand, this enabled Israel to achieve all her objectives without the UN interfering. No one at the UN was concerned about an Israeli loss—but an Israeli rout of her overconfident neighbors would lead to calls for an immediate ceasefire.
When the results came in, the world was shocked: Nearly 500 Arab planes destroyed, the Israelis were advancing with little resistance throughout the Sinai, all the way to the Suez Canal, 600 Egyptian tanks were taken out and 10,000 Egyptians killed or wounded, and another 5,000 plus were taken as POWs.
Moshe Dayan was celebrated around the world as one of the great military minds of our day. But his story doesn’t end there. Join me for part 2.